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1989 



Delaware Valley College 
Doylestown, PA 



Asst. Editor 

C. J. Bannan 



Publication Advisors 

Anne Biggs 
Joe Ferry 



Proofreader 

Edward O'Brien, Jr. 



Literary Advisors 

Edward O'Brien, Jr. 
Richard Ziemer 



Editor 

Bradley T. Braun 



From the Editor 



Bradley T. Braun 

As Editor, it was inevitable that I face the task of writing an introduction 
to the 1989 Delaware Valley College Gleaner. Lacking inspiration I 
turned, in the eternal spirit of literature, and in hopes of finding some 
erudite guidance to aid me in the discharge of my editorial duty, to 
such memorable introductions as Harlan Ellison's to Dangerous 
Visions Two and Carl Sagan's to Stephen W. Hawking's A Brief 
History of Time. Several blissful hours later I was dismayed to realize 
that I was no closer to writing an introduction than when I had begun. 

Recognizing that if I did not think of something soon my only 
alternative would be to write a thank you listing those persons involved, 
both directly and indirectly, in the production of the Gleaner, thereby 
compelled, I turned to yet another long-standing literary tradition: 
larceny, more often referred to as the use of quotations by those with 
the habit of such thievery. So it is with the words of Emerson that I 
commend your spirit when reading these pages: "I am quite ready to 
be charmed, but I shall not make-believe I am charmed." 

And so it would seem that I have written my introduction after all; 
if I have failed to do it well, at least I am consoled by the knowledge 
that, if they are at all Hke me, in their desire to get to the business at 
hand, most did not stop to read this at all. 





Dr. Richard Ziemer 



Mr. Bradley T. Braun 



Mr. Edward O'Brien 



^dimaen. 



Table of Contents 



Abe By Bradley T. Braun 1 

AH and All By Kimberly Anderson 3 

Untitled #3 By Kimberly Anderson 3 

Treasure Acres By Dr. Richard Z. Ziemer 4 

My Secret Love By C. J. Bannan 5 

Reflections on China and America By Nathaniel O. Wallace 6 

Broken Dreams By Darren Alles 9 

Life By Angela Mazaika 10 

A Buttercup By Angela Mazaika 10 

. . . Thoughts of Justin . . . By Maggie Ellis 11 

The Simple Things By Christian Tice 12 

Bear Hunt in Northeastern Pennsylvania By Bodie Knapp 13 

Experience and Wisdom By Morris Bradham 15 

Choices By Morris Bradham 15 

Sunday Silence By Brian S. Benner 16 

Losing Life's Links By Dr. Richard C. Ziemer 17 

Untitled By Anonymous 19 

Untitled By Anonymous 19 

Pandora's Box By C. J. Bannan 20 

A Fairy Tale By Tony Palumbo 21 

I Am. . .Let Me Be By C. J. Bannan 23 

Specimen By Brian S. Benner 24 

Obsession By Brian S. Benner 24 

Country House Party By Edward O 'Brien, Jr 25 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

Lyrasis IVIembers and Sloan Foundation 



http://www.archive.org/details/gleaner89stud 



Abe 

Bradley T. Braun 

It had been a long day for Abe Hamlish. With a sigh indicating 
another job well done, he leaned back from his computer terminal. "At 
least with this assignment I can work at home," he thought as he lit 
one of the stogies forbidden him at the office. 

He heard sobbing coming from the bedroom. "Anne must have had 
another nightmare," he mused, beginning to get up from his desk. 

"He raped me," Abe heard Anne saying in the other room. 

"It was only a dream, honey," he called to her. "Go back to bed, I'll 
be in in a minute. I'm done for the night." 

As Abe entered the tidy Hving room of their small, one bedroom 
apartment he realized something was not right. Anne was talking on 
the telephone. Her nightgown was torn. He took a involuntary step 
backwards when he saw her steadily pointing a knife toward his chest 
from across the room. 

"Get away from me!" she screamed. "Get away, or so help me I'll 
kill you." 

Abe backed away in confusion as Anne began brandishing the knife 
wildly in one hand, the telephone still held firmly in the other. 

"Who is on the 'phone?" he asked dumbly, not knowing what else 
to say. 

"The police! And they're coming to get you. I don't know why you 
did this to me, but I'm not going to let you get away with it," her words 
trailed off in an almost unintelligable screech. 

Abe balked. He did not know what was going on, but things were 
certainily out of hand. He decided on another tact. 

"Look honey, I didn't do anything to you. It was just a dream. Like 
before, only worse. Calm down, it'll be alright." Abe, gaining 
confidence, hesitantly stepped towards her. 

"No it won't." Anne motioned with the knife, causing Abe to retreat. 
"I want you out of here, in jail. And the police will find your friend 
too. I'll be sure of it." 

"My friend?" Abe asked. Now he was really concerned. "Anne is 
having a breakdown," he thought. "I should have seen it coming." 

"Yes, your friend," Anne responded savagely. "The fat one. Don't try 
to tell me I imagined him too. How could you let such a..a..a monster 
touch me?" she accused. 

With horror, Abe realized what was wrong. "Not only now," he 
thought, "but all her nightmares. They began when I started working 
at home. It's the work. I knew it was going too well to be true. 
Somehow, it's affected Anne." 

Gleaner 



When the poHce came, Abe went along peacefully, knowing that when 
the physician's report was filed it would prove that Anne had not been 
raped. It would be hard on her, he knew, to realize the whole event 
never occured. Perhaps harder still to get her to trust him again. But 
he could make it work, if only he could move her away from his work. 

In less than twelve hours, the physician's report on Anne Czalochi 
was filed. 

Its results were undeniably conclusive. 
Anne Czalochi had been raped by two men. 

Alone in his cell, Abe Hamlish wondered about his sanity. 



Gleaner 



All and All 



Kimberly Anderson 

It's been fun . . . 

We've laughed and 
we've cried . . . 

It's been fun . . . 

Sometimes a lot of 

hard work 
other times we chilled . . . 

We've checked out 

the fellows 
and we've kicked some 

tough games . . . 

But all and all 
it's been fun. 



Untitled #3 



Kimberly Anderson 

So I'm only 17, is that so bad ... I feel hke all of my Hfe I've tried my 
best to please you . . . Now I'm ready to fly like an eagle . . . Soaring 
through the sky with wings nice and widespread . . . With a look and 
feeling of determination . . . I've made a place in this world for myself 
and I will stand my GROUND. 



Gleaner 



Treasure Acres 



Dr. Richard C. Ziemer 

A trophy left Del Val today; 
Just plucked himself 
From his freshman shelf 
And intently drove away. 

Was I sick! 

Had I been abrasive? Harsh? Unattending? 

Not discerning what he needed 

That he unclustered himself 

From those future Who's Who's? 

Was a compound missing 

From the core of alloys that we offer 

That he became an un-alumnied Aggie? 

The next day he was back in place 
Among the other freshman trophies. 

Was I rehved! Then I thought: 

Of these trophies 

We're the caretakers and benefactors 

Not the owners. 

They come 

And grace this place, 

Improve their basic temper; 

They're burnished 

By the academic fire 

That hones their wit 

And guides their skill. 

And then they make their niche in time and space 

As we boast and brag 

That for a few four years . 

They garnished our shelves 

With that pliable, optimistic mettle — 

That exciting naivete, whose patina 
Matures before our very eyes. 



Gleaner 



My Secret Love 



C. J. Bannan 

Nothing is forbidden 

when it is hidden 

deep inside the soul. 

A burning ash, 

with a core of ice 

flashes a winning smile . . . 

but you are the constant warmth 

ensconcing my body in Hght. 

Give just once breath from you to me, 

I am drowning in the blue sea, 

the windows with which 

you don't notice me. 

I fall helplessly 

sUding down 

the smooth bronze of your arm 

landing at your feet, 

at your will. 

Kill me with your words, 

love me with your mouth, 

free me with your love. 

Surely one kiss would cure 

this infinite love, 

or inspire art and song. 

If you were carved of marble, 

the elements would caress 

and soothe your entirety. 

The sun would beat you 

mercilessly, 

fading and burning you. 

The moon would spotlight you, 

so still and lovely in the dark, 

a blanket of death, 

you are the warm flesh, 

a symphony of gold 

and precious jewels of blue, 

and I want nothing more 

than to tell you 

how very much 

I love you. 



Gleaner 



Reflections on China and America 

Nathaniel O. Wallace 

I 

An account of why many firsthand reports of China tend to be 
unfavorable could become endless, but I can summarize by saying that 
the causes can be separated into two broad categories. There are those 
that spring from what we bring to the situation and those that arise 
from the situation itself. To illustrate how these two kinds of factors 
can work together, I need only mention how a resident of New York or 
Philadelphia, accustomed to a high degree of efficiency, commodities 
in abundance and varied daily activities, becomes irritated when 
confronted with the relative inefficiency and scarcity of China. The 
need to arrive at clear and easy generalizations is frustrated by the 
inaccessibility and contradictory nature of information one gathers in 
a land proverbial for its ambience of mystery. This frustration often 
becomes anger that is resolved by one's contriving a consistent and 
negative view of China. Since the general defects of modern China 
have been dealt with in various articles and monographs, it is useful to 
give further attention to the attitudes and assumptions of foreign 
observers. I thus wish to unpack some of the cultural baggage a visitor 
from abroad might bring to China. 

Especially relevant for Americans (although citizens from any of the 
industrialized countries are often similarly predisposed) is the fact that 
we as a nation are over-stimulated, conditioned to a multitude of 
diversions, many of them audio-visual and electronic. The intensity of 
our amusements, whether in the form of cinema, radio, tape 
recordings, television or video games, is hardly matched by the 
tameness of Chinese counterparts, where they exist at all. One who is 
fond of rock music immediately embarks on a meager diet of such 
entertainment in China. In addition to the diversions one ordinarily 
seeks, there are those that our culture offers in the form of 
background busyness, whether we ask for them at every moment or 
not. The repetition of commercials on television and radio, flashing 
neon lights, high-speed traffic, and other daily symptoms of the 
convenience or inconvenience of urban life are greatly diminished in 
rapidity and quantity here. The series of reforms one often hears about 
is moving China toward a market economy by minute degrees. Small 
changes often become news because they are atypical but seem to 
represent a new trend. Struck by the slow pace of life and infrequency 
of shopping areas, flashing signs and other paraphernalia associated 
with a capitahst society, Americans sometimes complain of sensory 
deprivation after living in China for a while. 

6 Gleaner 



Peking, with its single-storey or low-rise buildings and its scattered 
market districts, strikes many visitors as only a center of population. 
"Where's the city?" they ask, when they are already downtown. 
Japanese residents often have a similar response and remark that 
Peking is like being "in the country." For these reasons, a number of 
foreigners prefer Shanghai, which is more compact and has a 
somewhat more active consumer economy than does Peking. 

The over-stimulated find themselves subject to more than the usual 
share of boredom that afflicts many foreigners in China. The beauties 
of China tend to be quieter and less assertive than its annoyances. The 
majesty of its traditional calHgraphy and painting, the charm and 
variety of its folk art, the flow of centuries-old patterns of life along 
narrow alleys, and the vitality of its people can fail to impress. Just as 
the student of Chinese language must learn to distinguish between 
minute differences of pitch and enunciation, the observer of the nation 
and its culture faces audio-visual configurations that are subtle as well 
as unfamiliar. The hawking calls of peddlers, the jangle of bells on 
donkeys or oxen, or the still commentary of a landscape inscribed with 
Buddhist monuments are useless treasures for anyone seriously 
addicted to the rhythm and movement of post-modern urban society. 



II 

Chinese and American pragmatism grow hauntingly similar if one 
considers a special aspect of that spirit in each culture. In America, 
pragmatism has almost always carried with it an aura of innovation 
that is perhaps well summed up in the word "gumption." The term 
indicates an individual's abihty to continue battling for existence in 
spite of unfavorable conditions; this combative attitude also implies 
that one willingly accepts risk or social disfavor if success seems 
attainable. The Wright brothers exempHfy gumption; with cloth 
stretched over a wooden frame, they made a laughable invention into 
the basis of a revolution in technology. From the time when the 
thirteen colonies fought for independence against the strongest 
military power of the age, to the woolly days of the westward 
migrations and settlements, to the Berlin airhft, and to contemporary 
innovations of door-to-door pizza peddlers and supra-atmospheric 
defense systems, Americans have sought the practical and have often 
succeeded at what at first inspection would appear to be highly 
impractical or at best undesirable. Similarly, the Chinese, especially 
within the past few decades, have cultivated the same spirit and even 
have a name for it. "Zi li geng sheng ," translated as "regeneration" 
or "self-reliance in creating change," even sounds suspiciously like 

Gleaner 



"gumption." From the building of the Great Wall onward, the Chinese 
have periodically labored to achieve success out of apparently 
unworthy schemes. New China is itself such a scheme that some critics 
argue has failed. The Great Leap Forward, the importation of 
thousands of "Foreign Experts" in scores of specialities, the "one 
family-one child" policy, and today's economic experiments all show 
this enterprising spirit. The Chinese have not feared to undertake 
ambitious and risky schemes if the pay-off has appeared enticing. 
Because the overall state of development of China is so overtly 
different from that of America at present, Chinese gumption manifests 
itself in ways that seem comic to many observers. 



Gleaner 



Broken Dreams 



Darren A lies 

A way of life that I recall 

Working the land to fill some hungry needs 

Home of red barns and green fields 

Years of dreaming and days of long hard work 

New faces and attitudes done come around 
Other farms took on a different shape and style 
A concrete town surrounded me 
Cars and houses soon replaced that dream 

I miss old friends that I once had 
Times have changed leaving an empty feeling 
Mountain Laurel, Grouse, and good clean air 
Miles away from the city once called home 

I'm tired of thinking and fooling around 
There's people laughing and looking down on me 
A bird named Ronnie is a guiding light 
Sing me a song when I'm feehng blue 
Oh. but now... 

Broken Dreams 

I don't know 

Which path to take 

But I must keep on travellin' 

One day I'll find my place in the sun 



Gleaner 



Life 

Angela Mazaika 

Life is a rainstorm, 

Springtime, 

A flower blossoming, 

A newborn baby. 

Waking up in the morning 

To see the dawn of a new day. 



A Buttercup 



Angela Mazaika 

A buttercup is God's creation, 

The beginning of summer, 

natural beauty, 

delicately shiny and fragile, 

Yellow. 



10 Gleaner 



. . . Thoughts of Justin . . . 



Maggie Ellis 

Dearest Justin, Love's child so sweet 

When at first our paths did meet 

You showed me the life of a child complete 

And me at 40 and you at 4 

Your childhood dreams we did explore 

It seems unfair that you had to leave 

And reflecting the memories of you I grieve 

But perhaps you are the lucky little guy 

Who's coloring the clouds for God in the sky 



Gleaner U 



The Simple Things 



Christian Tice 

Do we forget the simple things 
That make our hves worthwhile? 

The grace of a flowing tear, 
The tenderness oi a smile. 

We tend to dwell on the problems 
That each day seems to bring. 

Is there nothing better to recall; 
Have we forgotten everything? 

Stop now and remember 

Some memories you've stored away, 
Something worth recalling 

To make a better day. 



J2 Gleaner 



Bear Hunt in Northeastern Pennsylvania 

Bodie Knapp 

The most interesting day in my life is easily distinguishable from all the 
rest. It was that day that I went to hunt the bear that had been invading 
the sheep pasture on a weekly basis. This hunt was not to be a sporting 
event; we had a job to do. The hunting party consisted of my brother, 
father, uncle and myself. Here only one animal would fill the order of 
the day, the bear. This one animal was the smartest, most cunning, and 
fiercest animal in the woods. At the beginning of the quest I did not 
reahze this, but by the end it was very obvious. By studying his tracks 
and the sightings that we had observed, we were able to get a general 
idea of where he was spending the bulk of his time. 

We walked into the snow-covered woods in a line formation. 
We walked for what seemed like hours, with only the sounds of the 
cheerful Chickadees; out on even the worse days. I was only thirteen 
years old and frightened; having seen what the bear had done to our 
champion ram, who was much stronger than me. I was quite scared. 
I walked on, the tension building inside me. Despite the frigid wind, 
I was warm as I walked through the frosty wilderness. 

Finally I heard the crack of a shot in the wintery air. I found a good 
stump to rest on and strained every sense that I had to pick out the 
brute that I searched for. Seconds seemed like hours, and every little 
whisper of sound spun my imagination through all sorts of images. 
Finally I spotted the bruin much closer, and in the opposite direction 
from what I had expected. I laid my sights on him and squeezed off 
my shot only to have the bear bite at his hip and lunge in my direction, 
confused by all that was happening. I hastily ejected the shell in 
preparation for a second shot. My second shot took him in the 
shoulder and he kept on coming my way, apparently under the illusion 
that the marksman was behind him. At this point I cracked under 
pressure by jamming the third round in the chamber. My fingers 
seemed to work with decreasing proficiency as the beast closed in. 
Somewhere in the mass confusion I heard a gun shot and looked up to 
see my father standing on the left, rifle in hand, and the bear sprawled 
on the ground. 

Relieved, I moved closer to see this monstrous creature that had 
slaughtered all those sheep. When I was less than five yards away, the 
bear revived and began to get up. I looked back to see that jammed and 
useless rifle leaning against a tree. As a last resort I pulled out the 
small twenty-two caliber pistol that I had used in the morning to 
dispatch a raccoon on my trapping line. I bore down with the bead on 
his forehead, now no more than ten feet away, and pulled the trigger. 

Gleaner 15 



He toppled forward with his momentum and ceased to move. I 
could clearly see the mark of my bullet and knew this time he would 
not recover. Despite the reputation of this brute, I was almost sorry 
that I had ended his life. The snow around him turned crimson, and 
I realized that he was only trying to live just like anyone else. 



14 Gleaner 



Experience and Wisdom 



Morris Bradham 

Experience Was the Master Teacher . . 
His Ways Were Hard & Rough . . . 
Wisdom Stood Back, To Watch The 
Procession . . . And Thought to Watch 
Was Experience Enough . . . 



Choices 



Morris Bradham 

Before you take a Drug or Drink . . . 
it's a choice. Take time to think . . . 

Choices start in the Mind . , . 
and settle in the Heart . . . 
They're easy to find . . . 
And hard to start ... 

Choices Are Made By the young 

& Old . . . The Wrong Ones Determine 

The Value of your soul . . . 

The Greatest Choice A Recovering 
Addict Can Make . . . 
is When He or She Cry 
Precious Lord, My Hand, Please 
Take . . . 



Gleaner 15 



Sunday Silence 



Brian S. Benner 

Asleep on the sofa, 

silently dreaming in a world far from my own. 

I watch over and love, 

but how can you know? 

Your familiar face, 

with hair spilling over your forehead at the 

end of the mountainous range of blanket. 

Its peaks and valleys 

rising and faUing gently with your breath, 

covering all but life. 

Here in the quiet house, 

where all I hear are the pipes speaking freely, 

I watch over and hope somehow to understand. 

I wonder, if ever I'll speak as freely as the 

pipes and say all I need to say. 

And like the listening wood, 

hear all I need to know . . . from you. 

I want the knowing comfort, the peace of 

understanding; 

yet here we are together, in the dim light filtering 

through closed curtains. 

In silence ... an arm's length apart. 

In our own words, ever so rarely knowing 

the others. 



l^ Gleaner 



Losing Lifers Links 



Dr. Richard C. Ziemer 

Whenever the telephone would ring late at night at our house in 
Quakertown, Pennsylvania I thought that my parents were calling from 
Sandy, Oregon, and the older my grandparents and parents became, I 
thought the calls portended bad news. My sketchy account of Ziemer 
necrology included the loss of my great-grandfather who died at his 
son's home (my grandfather's) in 1943, the loss of my grandfather, who 
died at his son's home (my dad's) in 1980 and the next logical mortal 
event — that of my father— who started to die at his own house. 

When David called me from Wyoming, November 16, 1985, I was 
reading at home that sunny afternoon, and was totally unprepared for 
the shock, "Dad had a stroke this morning. He is in serious condition; 
things look bad for him." His two predecessors had lived 87 and 90 
years, and here was Dad Ziemer at age 73 in a hospital intensive care 
unit, and soon to be moved to a nursing home. 

After teaching the next week and checking with two brothers who 
had flown out to be by his side, I left before the Thanksgiving break. 
My "red eye" flight did not hold the same expectation that it held 
earher that summer when we visited both parents. Philadelphia — 
Houston-Portland brought me face to face, at 6:00 a.m. with Dad's 
brother, who took me from the airport to his place. Nine inches of 
snow had fallen, roads were packed with ice, as Oregon uses no salt, 
and the temperatures were below freezing much of the time. 

When Mom and brother Robert came to get me, I was ready to ride 
in the old Ford, for I had on work clothes and thick work boots. But 
as Robert led the way to the elevator of the nursing home, got off at 
the second floor, and walked directly into the room of a man that I did 
not recognize and said "Hi, Daddy," my heart sank. Because Robert 
had to return to Tennessee the next day, we spent time talking with/to 
a paralyzed "Paul Bunyan" whose only response was to wince and cry, 
and who could move only his feet; we tried to make him comfortable 
and share what he had meant to us. Seeing this once self-sufficient 
man now sustained by food through a NG tube was anomalous. Back 
at the farm later that day we discussed "What if's"— what if Dad 
comes through and is confined to a wheelchair? What if he does not 
make it through this? Mom's life would change dramatically in either 
case, as had the hves of many of those other pioneer women along that 
rural Oregon road who became widows. 

After Robert left, it was Mom, I, and a niece who visited, kept vigil, 
wished for a miracle, but found none. After talking with three 
physicians — one hopeful, the others not at all — and after telling Mom, 

Gleaner 17 



"It looks as if we're going to lose Dad," I slipped outside in heavy 
wraps to have a personal consultation with the Great Physician. His 
office was an air-conditioned 20 degrees F, His carpet was 9" of snow 
and ice, His murals were 80' cedar trees. His ceiling was studded with 
stars as if spread upon black velvet. I did not wait but went right into 
His presence with my broken heart and said, "I'm losing my dad, aren't 
I? Please give him one more day." The only celestial response that 
night came from the brilliant glow of a perfect full moon as I leaned 
against one of those trees and wept. I seemed to hear, "Richard, you're 
not the only one losing someone; there's your mom, your brothers, 
your Dad's brothers and sisters, and the neighbors. Many other people 
will miss this man too; you cannot keep him forever; release him." 
That pacified me, and Dad got one more day— Thanksgiving. Then the 
next morning at 11:10 as I stood by his bed massaging his shoulders 
and chest, trying to help him breathe, he drew a final breath, and there 
slipped away from me into eternity one of my two closest links to 
life — to humanity: Freddie E. Ziemer. 



18 Gleaner 



Untitled 

Anonymous 

Stop yourself from falling off 

The tower you perceive as your own 

Question the thought that seeks your 

mind 

Then walk away without the 

answer 



Untitled 



Anonymous 

What thought death brings, 
As I conjure feelings inside. 
How I can ride with an Elder who 

avoids death, 
While a young man that breathes no 

Thought dies. 
What irony this is. 

"The process is simple!" he told me. 

"Sing to avoid destruction of self." 

I though as I drove, 

the Elder's words struck me as 

odd. 

"He died yesterday," was all she said, 
I remembered, trying to forget. 
How can he die, he was too young. 
Maybe not. 

Feelings that are not clear to me. 
Confuse me but seem to fade. 
But once or twice in time, the 
feeling comes again. 
The feeling that cannot be avoided, 
A feeling that cannot be saved. 
A feeling known as death. 
And its victims all the same. 



Gleaner 19 



Pandora's Box 



C. J. Bannan 

For years you've held 

precious thoughts and memories- 

in you I have etched 

pictures of my dreams, 

my hopes painted on your heart. 

Suddenly, as we grow 

the box in which I live 

deep in your heart 

has opened. 

Now I shall sit 

in utter silence, 

the loudest sound 

that you will ever hear, 

and nail shut Pandora's Box. 



20 Gleaner 



A Fairy Tale 

Tony Palumbo 

One fine enchanted morning in the newly gentrified residential district 
of a busy downtown mystic kingdom, a young upwardly-mobile 
princess had her first encounter with the underclass, when she was 
accosted by a frog soliciting kisses from passersby. 

Initially, the princess, a morally upright member of the urban 
aristocracy, was properly appalled by the flagrant indecency and overt 
kinkiness of the amphibian's proposition. Not only did this particular 
denizen of the marsh land tenements belong to an inferior socio- 
economic strata, he was also rather damp, green complexioned, and on 
welfare as well. In addition, the idea was patently unsanitary; inter- 
specific oral-epidermal contact could do anything from causing warts 
to transmitting AIDS. Obviously, his request constituted a serious 
transgression of social and evolutionary protocol. 

However, while under ordinary circumstances the princess would 
most likely have summoned a member of the local constabulary and 
had the frog jailed for vagrancy, public lewdness and whatever other 
criminal charges could be contrived, on this morning she paused for a 
moment. Actually, she paused for several moments, which very nearly 
became a while. Indeed, after she felt that she had paused for enough 
moments, she began to consider the frog's proposal in something 
approaching earnest. While to the lay reader this may seem a change 
of heart somewhat inexplicable, closer inspection would reveal that the 
princess happened to be feehng unusually rebellious and especially 
sexually repressed that day, largely as a result of the domineering 
influences of her careerist step-mother. She was therefore unusually 
receptive to opportunities for unorthodox libidinal expression and/or 
class revolt. Thus, the only remaining obstacle was the princess' 
anxiety over the prospect of being confronted with the gross 
impropriety of her behavior by her analyst during a therapy session. 
The frog graciously assuaged her fears by explaining that upon 
completion of the act, a starthng metamorphosis would transpire that 
would completely vindicate both parties. 

The princess then kissed the frog. 

One standard-issue starthng metamorphosis then transpired. 

In the moments that ensued, both participants in the recent event 
could do naught but stand in dumbstruck awe at the transformation 
that had just been wrought. Indeed, they both spent some time staring 
into each other's eyes, as if by doing so they might somehow come to 
terms with the new corporeal form that one of them had suddenly 



Gleaner 21 



assumed. However, it eventually occurred to each of them (individually 
and yet damn near simultaneously) that all that they could do was to 
exploit the situation to their fullest possible mutual advantage. Thus, 
with but a final deep look into each other's eyes and an exceedingly 
knowing roguish grin between them, the two frogs hopped with the 
utmost alacrity into the nearest swampy habitation, and commenced to 
build a new and happy life together, the species barrier having been at 
last boldly overcome. 

EPILOGUE: Unfortunately, they did not Hve happily ever after. The 
incipient passion which the two amphibians had initially shared, 
almost incessant consummation of which served to characterize the 
first several weeks of their relationship, soon gave way to complacency, 
bordering on blatant boredom, as the two quickly began to exhaust the 
once-seemingly infinite capacity for novelty that the former princess' 
new body afforded her. Thus, less than two months after the princess' 
transmogrification, her erstwhile paramour was seen by reliable 
sources soliciting kisses from sexually frustrated nouveau riche 
pubescents on a city street-corner. 



22 Gleaner 



I Am... Let Me Be 



C. J. Bannan 

Today I have been misunderstood. 
What is it to be misunderstood? 
If we all have interpretations 
of the world, 

so jaded by individual thoughts, 
is anyone ever understood? 
Understanding is merely 
an acceptance of ones capabilities. 
I am the source of all things, 
good and evil, 
light and dark. 
I am a tempest- 
Angry, and quick to destroy. 
I am the rain- 
soothing and monotonous, 
yet cold and relentless. 
I am alive, 
let me exist 

in my own euphoric creation, 
hatred pinkens my soul, 
as the world rapes me 
of my entirety. 
I am half, 
yet I am whole. 
I am a sapling void of roots, 
please don't let me die 
in the wind of your 
screams. 
Let me grow, 
I'll reach the sky 
when the sky meets me, 
and my outstretched arms. 
Your demands construct cages 
holding me near your heart, 
yet you hate me, 
and myself 

as much as you covet my love, 
and destroy my hope. 



Gleaner 23 



Specimen 

Brian S. Benner 

Floating... 

with darlcening skin, 

ten fingers, ten toes. 
How did you end here? 

Eyes closed, never to open on day nor night. 

Fingers clenched, never to hold anothers. 
Who are you? 

Upside down in fluid, in a glass jar. 

You should have been much more. 
Where was your chance? 

Given up for the chances of others, 

others who were responsible? 

They had a choice, you did not. 
A victim of mistakes 

. . .that of beginning 

. . .that of ending 
A mistake — maybe 

. . . are you? 

Obsession 



Brian S. Benner 

Ever felt, not spoken 

always known, but never understood. 
Holding my soul captive 

with unrelenting grasp. 
Its power holds all-consuming control. 

I allow, encourage, 

need its consumption of me. 
Its presence always clawing, 

tearing at my intellect. 
Knowing the impossibility, 

yet refusing to, unable to 

let go. 
I ought to end it, 

escape from it never to return. 
Yet, 

dreams of realized desire keep me 
from my freedom. 



24 Gleaner 



Country House Party 



Edward O'Brien Jr. 

On Christmas day of 1982 I went to a party at the country house of an 
old acquaintance. I remember it well, an enjoyable time that has 
troubled my spirit. Family and friends gathered at the stone house 
surrounded by its own secluded acreage. No other house could be seen. 
Four horses were stabled nearby, and five or six peacocks strutted 
about on the lawn. Around a table in the living room of the old house 
perhaps 25 of us were drinking champagne and chatting. The day was 
warm and overcast, making the room a little shadowy. Red candles 
were burning on the heavily-laden table. There was crystal and lace and 
a gaping, black-iron fireplace. Voices and laughter. Dogs. 

These were country people; some were well-off, with land and 
horses. My original connection with the family had been writing an 
account of their big-game hunting and we had remained friendly. I 
could reminisce with six of them; the rest were strangers. But everyone 
was courteous and friendly, and with the bubbly flowing, relaxation 
and a spirit of bonhomie were general. In some ways, the occasion 
qualified as one of the "best" parties I ever attended. You know how it 
is; you joyously participate in some of a party, while some of it 
happens around you but not to you. Then after being detached for 
awhile, suddenly you are drawn in again. 

A woman abruptly sat down across from me, a glass of champagne 
in one hand, and asked, brightly, "Do you have horses?" I had to say 
no, smiling at the unusual question. 

Later, the elder daughter of the house, wearing a long black dress, 
and with flowing, ravenblack hair, told me that her brother, who lived 
too far away to come home that day, had recently become a Roman 
Catholic. I mistakenly asked her, "What do you think of that?" She 
gave me a concerned look. "Well, I think it's unfortunate!" This reply 
put me off somewhat, so forgetting my manners in that well-bred 
company, I asked her if she attended church. She shook her head. 

Her short-haired sister, also dressed entirely in black, opposed yet 
more sternly her brother's turning to Rome. Out on the terrace, she 
said determinedly, "There's so much wrong with the Catholic Church." 
"What, for example?" She responded contemptuously, "They call God 
a father." "Oh, you're a feminist, then." She snapped back, "Certainly 
I'm a feminist: I'm a woman!" "Not all women are feminists, by any 
means," I countered. More sparring followed. We were getting 
nowhere. A royal peacock blew its brassy horn. 

Still later, upon mentioning the subject of the erring brother to the 
younger son of the house, I was told that he became a Catholic 

Gleaner 25 



because he needed a strong discipline, like karate, which he had been 
"into." The mother, our hostess, said with a quirky smile, "Whatever 
turns you on." That someone might join a church because he thought 
her doctrines true did not occur to any member of the family, or at 
least remained unexpressed. 

Under an oval portrait, someone pointed out some odd couples 
among the guests. I glanced over the softly-burning candles, and 
nodded. Then there appeared a 97-year-old sculptress accompanied by . 
a strange figure who wore, even in the house, a tall red hat resembling 
a mitre. At one point, the mitred one, a middle-aged man, declaimed a 
"poem" to the company. It was time to go; after saying goodbye, I 
drove down through the dark cedar woods, and away. 

What bothered me about this party and these people? They were not 
lacking in good breeding and friendliness. The family, whom I had 
known for years, was neither greedy, vulgar, snobbish or hypocritical. 
Of course, I knew little of their interior lives. The guests could only be 
considered by their behavior at the house; surely that is insufficient. 
But what little I knew or inferred disturbed me. 

It was not so much what they were, as what, apparently, they were 
not. On the one hand, their values seemed to be good manners, 
common sense, a love of satisfying pleasures such as horsemanship 
and hunting, loyalty to old friends, kindhness, and among some of 
them a certain worldly sophistication. And the family was pohtically 
liberal, despite outward appearances. 

On the other hand, what was missing? Did any of them accept the 
Lx)rd? To have openly brought up the subject around that candlelit 
board, with its hors d'oeuvres and glittering glasses of champagne, 
would have been an appalling and unforgivable crudity. Not that I 
wanted to; yet mixing quite willingly with them, I secretly held beliefs 
which they almost certainly were utterly indifferent to, if not contemp- 
tuous of. Consequently, a feeling of detachment, of being in a strange 
country, came over me. I have said they were kindly, and so they were, 
but if certain conversations had been taken to their logical divisions, 
then maybe they would have been upon me with icy stares or sarcastic 
words. Often, a believer simply has to remain silent, mindful of those 
words of John 15:19 — 

If you had been of the world, the world would love its own; 
but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you 
out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 

The day after the party, a Sunday, brought more sharply into focus 
this problem of being in the world but not of it. That morning I 
attended Mass. This liturgical experience was definitely on the other 
side of the river from the gathering in the stone house. Some of the 

26 Gleaner 



singing was awkward, the sermon overlong and rather bludgeoning, 
the people the sort you meet in shoe stores. Just people. No 
champagne, but consecrated wine. Instead of bubbles, the thick blood 
of religion, a scandal to the sophisticated. Yet, for a supernaturalist 
Christian, Church is where one has to be on Sunday morning. Not 
Wallace Stevens, but T.S. Eliot says it effectively: "It was, (you may 
say), satisfactory." 

Thinking back to the party, I realized again the shocking chasm 
separating the supernaturalist believer from the unbeliever. What is 
reahty to one, is fantasy to the other. On the deepest level of my being, 
I could say nothing to those people that would not bring a laugh, a 
frown, or glacial silence. The party was an image of the world. The 
stone house in the country remains to me a symbol of that humanism 
which, on the surface, seems attractive and humane, offering the best 
this world has from its refined, or jolly, hand. The main hall of the 
castle of humanism is sumptuous, warm, and cheery. Handsome men 
and lovely women reassure one another of their good sense, confirm 
one another in their avoidance of credulity and fanaticism. Everyone is 
mature and having a good time. It is flattering to one's self-image. 

But dark passageways lead to side chambers and odd rooms below- 
stairs, where the humanist, cut adrift from faith, and relying on reason 
and experience alone, is apt to hearken to the piping of the whippor- 
wills, and things will slide. He will listen to the call of what historian 
James Hitchcock has named "the imperial self," which asserts that 
whoever tries to tell you what to do is oppressing you. An unspoken 
premise of many prosperous Americans seems to be that you should 
get whatever you want and get it through your own efforts. Restraints 
are unhealthy. 

Finally, it is the conversational style of secular humanists, even more 
than their hedonism, which is particularly painful to me. How often I 
have had to endure in silence the persiflage of educated, well-spoken 
secularists: that cold irreligious banter, that glib flippant mockery of 
things holy and pure. In those distressing moments, you fear it is a 
Imistake to be in such gatherings at all. 

Copyright 1984, New Oxford Review 
(reprinted with permission) 



Gleaner 27 









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